Hyperemesis and Preterm Labor

This stubborn little child. He had his own agenda from the day he was conceived. I dreamed a pretty easy pregnancy like with Jack. Some nausea, acid reflux, and low blood pressure issues again. But nothing too crazy. I also wanted a very active pregnancy this time. I wanted to hike everyday with Jack and get my body as strong as possible. I envisioned going into labor on a trail somewhere….

…but nope. It started with bad hyperemesis right away. Followed by a stomach bug. Then migraines. Then worse hyperemesis. Then a UTI. Then even worse hyperemesis. Then vaginosis. Then the irritable uterus started up. Even worse hyperemesis. Horrible allergic reaction. Pulled a groin muscle and couldn’t walk. And then the throwing up acid at night from the worst acid reflux in my life.

IMG_6227
35 weeks
By the time I went to my 35 week midwife appointment, my body was exhausted. I was happy to have made it so far with a very healthy baby—my rainbow baby.  My midwife asked how I was doing, I answered “I am coughing up acid at night, I’m having a TON of Braxton-Hicks, I can’t eat much food because everything is so squished, I feel faint because I can’t eat or drink enough, and I can’t sleep at night. But overall, good.” She nodded, she knew I was exhausted. Then she said the good news—she did not believe I would go to my due date and I just had to deal with a few more weeks. This was Monday. After that Saturday, I would be 36 weeks, the legal gestational age to give birth in a birthing center in Oregon. I went home and planned on just sitting around relaxing until my appointment next week.

That Thursday, Jack had a playdate at a nearby park. Towards the end I got really tired. So we said goodbye a few minutes early and left. A few minutes later, it happened…

The worst thing that happened my whole pregnancy so far. I puked ALL over my car. Projectile vomited without warning when I stopped at a stop sign. And continued for 30 seconds. I couldn’t open the door or window, it just kept coming. When I finally stopped, a car had pulled up behind me so I had to go. Jack started laughing hysterically, “Mommy threw up! Mommy you are so silly!” I started crying and called my mom over the car speaker. I told her I was pulling up right now and I needed her help. I puked all over my car.

She sent me inside and told me to get cleaned up. She put Jack inside and cleaned my car.  I showered and laid down in bed. I kept throwing up every 30 minutes or so. I couldn’t keep anything down. A few hours later, I called my midwife. She told me to come up to be rehydrated. Michael picked me up and my mom watched Jack.

I threw up again when we got there. I was so dehydrated they once again couldn’t get a vein on me. The midwives are trained medical professionals, they knew what to do. But I am a hard stick even hydrated. So they started a rectal IV. But it started to kick up my Braxton-Hicks into real contractions so they quickly stopped it. I threw up several more times and was started to get very upset.

At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
My midwife talked with the other midwives, and they decided it was time to transfer me to a hospital. I was still 35 weeks so I could not give birth there if it was the real deal. And if it was just dehydration, I needed IV fluids quickly to stop preterm labor. I was scared, but I understood.

A little while later I was in a wheelchair in Labor and Delivery at OHSU. As they took me to triage, I looked into all the delivery rooms and started to panic a little. This was not what I wanted. Why are you doing this to us, Bear? We could be at a wonderful birthing center of you could just wait a week or so!

Then I threw-up again and I knew this where we needed to be. My body needed helped. The nurse saw all needle pokes on my arms from the birth center and knew right away she needed to get the most experienced nurse possible. She brought in a 20+ year NICU/OB nurse who can get veins on 1 lbs premature babies. It still took her 3 tries. I really am that hard of a stick.

Stay in!!
Stay in!!
I was so happy once I could feel the fluid in my veins. They quickly gave me a Zofran shot and a Reglan shot for nausea. Then the OB came in. She checked my cervix , I was 3 cm. I was 1 at the birthing center three hours ago so this worried me. She also did a quick ultrasound, she said baby looked great, but was totally head down and engaged. She said they would not stop my labor if I continued to progress, but she hoped it would stop on its own once in hydrated. For that reason, the doctor suggested a Betamethasone shot. It is a steroid that helps develop baby’s lungs quickly. She explained all her reasons and the possible side effects, which I greatly appreciated. I felt very very respected and greatly appreciated her taking the time to inform me. As a result, I was not upset when they admitted me for the night for monitoring and continued fluids.

I threw up a few more times, so they gave me more medicine. Also, she added some acid reflux medicine because all that puking was triggering a major reflux attack. And this whole time I was having consistent, steady contractions. But they didn’t hurt, felt slightly stronger than the Braxton-Hicks/cramps I’ve had since 20 weeks. Then they gave me some medicine to help me sleep and I was out! Like didn’t even notice the nurse coming in a few hours later to change my IV bag and take my vitals kind of out.

IMG_6274The doctor woke me up at 6 AM before her shift ended to check me again. I hoped it was all good and I could leave in a few hours…but nope. My stubborn, stubborn child had other plans. I lost a huge chunk of my mucus plug overnight. And I dilated another centimeter and thinned out a tiny bit more. So I needed to stay for at least a few more hours and probably the night again. Good news was the doctor decided this was probably not a stomach virus or true labor. It was probably just my hyperemesis causing dehydration contractions (if you can call that good news). Actual good news was I hadn’t thrown up for several hours and I wanted breakfast! And I eat my entire breakfast and kept it down! Same with my lunch and dinner. I had horrible acid reflux and it took several medications to keep the acid from creeping up though. But I will take that over projectile vomiting any day.

A new OB checked me shortly before dinner and had more good news. I had not progressed, and my contractions had slowed and spaced out. They took me off the monitor and gave me instructions to let them know immediately if my contractions got worse. And they stopped my IV and told me to drink all that I could to stay hydrated. But, they wanted to keep me one more night just to be safe and give me the second dose of steroid shot for his lungs. My body was still exhausted so I didn’t argue. Everyone had treated me with such respect and honesty that I would not be upset if I had to deliver there. A much different hospital experience than with Jack.

Happy to be released!
Happy to be released!
They gave me more medicine to sleep and I was knocked out again. In the morning I got the best news, no more progression or change in contractions, so I was going home! She said I was really not likely to make it to my due date, but I would be more comfortable waiting for labor at home if I am not actively progressing. It was Saturday now, I was 36 weeks. So I asked if I could still deliver at my birth center birth like I planned. Without hesitation she said yes! As long as I listen to my midwife and no other complications arise, there was no reason why I couldn’t. I was so happy!

They released me quickly and we stopped for lunch on the way home (which I ate and kept down!). Jack was so happy to see us. He jumped on my lap and snuggled with me on the couch watching TV for a long time. This whole pregnancy was hard on him, too.

I planned on laying around for the next week or so, giving Bear a bit more time to cook. But he had other plans. Check out my next post for his birth story.

Grateful But Miserable

Yesterday I gave myself a Mother’s’ Day treat, attending Birth Without Fear Conference in Portland toddler-free. I attended last year and loved it. I really hoped to return this year pregant, and I was lucky enough for that to happen. But this is not quite the pregnancy I expected to come with at all. First of all, I never expected to be carrying a rainbow baby. Second, I never expected to be this miserable pregnant.

In November, I posted about how I had a miscarriage. As I mentioned, this totally blindsided me. I have no issues getting pregnant and already had a healthy baby. I never had much time to deal with what happened, I had to leave for babywearing training in Seattle the next day and was very busy after that. I became determined to get pregnant again as soon as possible, so I focused on that more than dealing with the loss. Two cycles later we got pregnant with this baby and I was happy…for the most part. I was happy but afraid. I waited for the 6 weeks 5 days mark (as far as I got with the miscarriage) to pass before I accepted mentally it was for real.

But do you know what also happened about this time? Hyperemesis kicked in.  There was no way I could get excited now. I was too busy trying not to throw up and die every day for months. I thought it will get better when I get to the second trimester—just get to 12 weeks I told myself. I thought all the nausea will go away and my chances of miscarriage drop way down, so I will be able to relax. Nope.

Guess what happened next? Shortly after I wrote my hyperemesis post, I went in for my another ER visit. I was having horrible stomach pain and they were concerned I had appendicitis. I got two bags of fluids, a Benadryl shot to calm my horrible headache, and a Zofran shot. Then an ultrasound to check baby and my appendix. But, she couldn’t find my appendix, so I got an MRI. Do you know how fun an MRI at 2 AM when you are exhausted and loopy from Benadryl?!?! I ended up just having extreme intestinal distress and I was told to just drink more water….great advice to someone who can’t hold down much.

A few weeks later, something really scary happened. I started to have slightly painful cramps. They were more than menstrual cramps, but less than contractions. It reminded me of the cramps I had the night my water broke with Jack, so I worried. I called my midwife who told me to rest and drink water to see if they stop. If I stayed laying down, they stopped. But as soon as I got up, they came back.

Jack assisting my midwife check my cervix
This went on for 2 days my midwife had me come in.  She became a bit concerned because I was 1cm dilated and had a lot of discharge she didn’t like. She took a vaginal swab and sent me for a ultrasound that day. I was so afraid. I had Jack with me so I needed to keep it together for him. I rushed to drop Jack with my mom and picked up Michael. I am one of those people who will totally lose it I panic so I just stayed calm and didn’t make it out to be a big deal to everyone. But I was so afraid. Terrified.

The ultrasound ended up being okay. I was very dehydrated so she couldn’t get all the pictures she needed. But my cervix was closed internally and high. I had a plenty of amniotic fluid and baby looked good. They could not confirm gender (we did genetic testing so we know it’s a boy). My midwife called a few days later to say I had a vaginosis and an irritable uterus. Neither is necessarily bad, but both can lead to preterm labor if untreated.Several more days of bed rest and more cramps plus antibiotics. And my parents went out of town so I couldn’t really rest like I needed because I had to chase Jack.

So, at 19 weeks pregnant , I spent an evening at my birthing center getting rehydrated for the FIFTH time this pregnancy. They couldn’t get a vein on me so they had to do it the other way. That’s right, they gave  me an enema. Took the needle off the IV and inserted the catheter right in my butt. I didn’t care though. My cramps stopped within minutes and I felt so much better. I’m in my second trimester, I’m supposed to be feeling the best my whole pregnancy right now and it’s only getting worse. And I am still worried that this constant getting dehydrated is going to cause real preterm labor. Now I am telling myself just get to 24 weeks, when most babies born early care considered viable. Then I can relax, hopefully.

I started to say to myself “I wish I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I am so miserable. I just want this over.” Then I realized the horror in what I said. I wished no longer be carrying my rainbow baby. I know this is not what  really meant, but even implying losing this baby was horrible to me. At this time, my best friend was afraid she would never be able to have children. She had just undergone exploratory surgery with fears should would lose both her ovaries and fallopian tubes (ended up only losing one of each). How could I say such things when she might never be able to have children period?!?!? I want to be clear that I want this baby with all my heart. I needed this baby. I am not ungrateful for this baby, I know how lucky I am to be pregnant and be able to have children. But I am miserable and still afraid.

At Birth Without Fear, there was a speaker on pregnancy loss. I debated the whole train ride to the convention center if I wanted to listen to it. I didn’t want to face my fears. I didn’t want to hear stories of babies who didn’t make it for fear I would actually lose this baby. I didn’t want to admit the horrible thing I said when I am lucky enough to be carrying my rainbow baby. Once I got there, and saw how many other women went into that session, I knew I needed to go. The speaker was Jessica Daggett, a Doula and a mom who has experienced two losses herself. She and other mom’s shared their stories. It was hard to hear at times and ramped up my fears, but it was also healing. It was healing to know she was afraid with her pregnancies after her losses.

Then later on in the afternoon was the harmony circle. I decided to sit at the loss group. Five other women, including Jessica, sat at the table. Each shared their stories, each one a little different, but all the feelings were the same. One mom was her in second trimester but afraid to enjoy it because she lost twin baby girls due to preterm labor. One had lost her baby in March. One was struggling with IV after having her one working tube wrongfully removed after a miscarriage.  One had a miscarriage from preeclampsia when she didn’t know she was even pregnant. But all of us felt fear, guilt, and sadness.

The greatest part was to hear them all say I was not a bad mother for not enjoying my pregnancy, and even hating it. And it’s okay for me to be afraid of losing my baby. The fact that I care enough to care that I hate it is proof. I want to repeat this:

It’s okay to not enjoy your pregnancy. Especially if you have hyperemesis or other complications.

It’s okay to fear loss. Especially if you have lost before.

But you need to deal with your emotions and not let them consume you forever. Please seek help from a professional if these feelings are interfering with your daily life. I have not gotten to that point, but it’s nice to know it’s okay to have these thoughts.

I am beyond grateful to have an amazing two-year-old and be pregnant with my rainbow baby on this Mother’s day. But I can’t wait until I am done being miserable.  Thank you Birth Without Fear, Jessica, and the other moms at my table for giving me the courage to write this post.